"For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy." — St. Therese of Lisieux
MEDITATION OF THE DAY
"Prayer is greatly aided by fasting and watching and every kind of bodily chastisement. In this regard each of you must do what you can. Thus, the weaker will not hold back the stronger, and the stronger will not press the weaker. You owe your conscience to God. But to no one else do you owe anything more except that you love one another." — St. Augustine, p. 143 AN EXCERPT FROM Augustine Day by Day
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(c. 1st Century)
Saint Matthew's Story
Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. The Romans were not scrupulous about what the "tax farmers" got for themselves. Hence the latter, known as "publicans," were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with "sinners" (see Matthew 9:11-13). So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers.
Matthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house. The Gospel tells us that many tax collectors and "those known as sinners" came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. What business did the supposedly great teacher have associating with such immoral people? Jesus' answer was, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' I did not come to call the righteous but sinners" (Matthew 9:12b-13). Jesus is not setting aside ritual and worship; he is saying that loving others is even more important.
No other particular incidents about Matthew are found in the New Testament. Reflection
From such an unlikely situation, Jesus chose one of the foundations of the Church, a man others, judging from his job, thought was not holy enough for the position. But he was honest enough to admit that he was one of the sinners Jesus came to call. He was open enough to recognize truth when he saw him. "And he got up and followed him" (Matthew 9:9b). Saint Matthew is the Patron Saint of:
As I sit here, the beating of my heart, the ebb and flow of my breathing, the movements of my mind are all signs of God's ongoing creation of me. I pause for a moment, and become aware of this presence of God within me.
Dear Lord, instil in my heart the desire to know and love you more. May I respond to your will for my life.
Where do I sense hope, encouragement, and growth areas in my life? By looking back over the last few months, I may be able to see which activities and occasions have produced rich fruit. If I do notice such areas, I will determine to give those areas both time and space in the future.
Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace: one Body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.
And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:2-3, 4-5 R. (5) Their message goes out through all the earth. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth. Not a word nor a discourse whose voice is not heard; Through all the earth their voice resounds, and to the ends of the world, their message.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.
Alleluia - See Te Deum R. Alleluia, alleluia. We praise you, O God, we acclaim you as Lord; the glorious company of Apostles praise you. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 9:9-13
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" He heard this and said, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ Despite being concerned with his balances and rates, Matthew was ready to hear a deeper message. How might I preserve a readiness to hear the promptings of Jesus when I am in the midst of my daily occupation?
▪ We are challenged when we see that Jesus was tolerant of sinners so we sometimes relax and imagine that he was tolerant of sin. I allow my time of prayer to draw me into understanding Jesus more fully.
What feelings are rising in me as I pray and reflect on God's Word? I imagine Jesus himself sitting or standing near me and open my heart to him.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
wau.org Catholic Meditations Meditation: Matthew 9:9-13
Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist (Feast)
He got up and followed him. (Matthew 9:9)
What was going through Matthew's head when Jesus passed by, noticed him, and said, "Follow me"?
As a tax collector, Matthew would have been held at arm's length by his family and despised by his neighbors. His co-workers had a reputation for coming up with scams to line their own pockets, and Matthew might have done the same thing himself. So it's not hard to imagine him leading a lonely life or trying to use money to make up for the lack of friendship.
But then Jesus arrives and offers his invitation, and Matthew follows. The next thing we hear, they are having a meal together—and with a host of other people just like him! Perhaps this is the key: Matthew felt love and acceptance in a way he hadn't in a long time.
Jesus was compassionate. He saw who had been left out and rejected. He let them know that he wanted to be with them. It's a simple but powerful message: "I want to know you. I'm happy to spend time with you. Let's have dinner." This affirmation can change lives—it certainly changed Matthew's!
Think of all the people who were touched by Jesus' genuine compassion. At least two were publicly known to have committed adultery: the woman at the well, who came at the hottest part of the day to avoid the gossip of the wives of the village; and the woman whom he saves from being stoned to death. Both were living with shame and rejection before Jesus approached them. The list goes on—Zacchaeus, the good thief, prostitutes, and lepers. Jesus never seemed anxious about his reputation. Instead, he looked people straight in the eye and loved them. He just accepted them.
Jesus is passing through the place where you'll spend most of your day—your workplace, your home, wherever it is. He turns and notices you, and he smiles. He sees all your imperfections and sin, but he still wants to spend time with you. He doesn't have one bit of embarrassment about being associated with you. No, he is eager to make you his friend!
"Lord, I am in awe of your love for me. Thank you for being my friend."
From today's 1st Holy Scripture: " But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. " And then we hear of how grace is bestowed on various individuals and in various forms but for one Spirit of Peace and unity, all things that mean....we base our lives on CHRIST.
We prayed the Holy Psalms today "Through all the earth their voice resounds, and to the ends of the world, their message." And their voice is repeating the Word of the Lord, and it is being imparted to you. It is a firmament, a rock to which to build our house on, and for Him to enter.
In comes the Lord of our lives and enters the house of Matthew, the immoral tax collector. But why is the Lord eating at a sinner's place? Why are they dining together? Why is the sinner dining with the Lord? Because, remember, when Jesus saw Matthew, the Lord said to him "Follow Me." It was a command. It was not an invitation. You know how you get text message, and those few words can be interpreted in different ways? For good or for bad? The same it can be with the Lord's commands. It is how we interpret them. This is the danger, because if you interpret them wrong and teach others to do so, it is blind leading blind into a pit. Matthew saw it as an opportunity, a chance at redemption...holiness was calling, something better than what was making him happy, his post, his job, his money...his...life.
And so how is the Lord calling you today? What is He calling you to leave? Matthew didn't give up his house, he shared it now...with the poor...with the Lord. Matthew didn't give up his money, but he returned it, what was not his. A saint once said that the extra stuff you got belongs to the poor. Think about all the extra stuff you got, especially all that love you got stored up. But the Lord is saying more, reach for the skies...the Heavens. Matthew wound up giving his life for the Lord, first, by giving his life to the Lord, and second, by giving his body as a martyr they say.
You see, when Jesus says "Follow Me", it is a calling to surrender, and render to God what is His, and to Caesar, the worldly ruler, what is his.
When the Lord calls you, it is to live a life of giving. When the Lord calls you, it is not a matter of saying with your mouth "yes I will come", but a matter of getting up and doing it. Because in the Gospel today, Jesus says "Follow Me" and the next moment we find them dining together at his house. You too can be found dining with the Lord, if you do as He commands. Two words come forth from the Lord today as the Holy Spirit has bestowed on me to share..."Go Out!"